7/6/07 Uzbekistan (MNN) — Over the last two years, Uzbekistan’s government has expelled most foreign groups.
For Operation Mobilization, that meant that all of their international team members were forced to leave. That has forced OM to close down their 16-year-old ministry in Uzbekistan.
The situation has been a deteriorating one. It’s roughly the same timeframe since the government suppression of the popular uprising in Andijan. Since then, the politics of Uzbekistan have turned, and the government has begun a new period of heavy Christian persecution.
The Open Doors’ World Watch List 2007 (list of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians) ranks Uzbekistan #11 out of the top 50 countries on the list. Mission groups also indicate the people, in general, in Uzbekistan consider Christians as followers of a western religion or members of an extremist sect.
However, OM’s team has partnered with others to train, empower and disciple many new believers, so the church continues to grow. However, Christians from an Islamic background in remote parts of the country also encounter resistance from fundamentalist Muslims and are put under pressure to return to their former faith.
Praise God for the growing Uzbek church and pray that it would flourish and endure. Pray, too, for the handful of Uzbek OM staff who continue to minister in their homeland.